What the Fu?

I’ve been putting together the initial pieces of something I have not done in a long time; running a roleplaying game.  My idea is to grab my family and torture them with tales of derring-do and adventure at least two times a month.  I’m quite sure they would rather wash dishes and do laundry but I’m going to make them do it anyway!

What’s the catch?  Well, I’m just not big on the large game-sets these days.  I used to be enamored with large rule books and expansions.  This may seem scary to some of you but I ran so many GURPS games I literally have the rules memorized.  I got rid of my collection some time ago and even though there might be some foggy areas I’m pretty sure I could run a game without them.  Wanna hit that orc running at you with your bow?  Is it a targeted shot?  -5 for a head shot (aiming for the neck is -7) and I’m going to guess about -4 for range and movement.  If you aim for one turn it will give you an extra +2.  Good luck!  (Again, I’m guessing on some of that…)  I’ll spare you the details of the difference between slicing and impaling damage.

What am I into?  I’m into story based games.   A little bit in the way of “crunch” or modifiers isn’t a bad thing but I think it can detract from the creativity, especially with new players.  I’m a huge fan of something called the Matrix game first created by Chris Engle.  With it, the object is more about having a fun time creating a story from the ground up.  Many many moons ago, I worked with Chris and tried to incorporate my thoughts into a combination of RPG and Matrix game.  I wanted something where the players could have just as much control of the game as the Gamemaster.  The game was called Cinematrix.  I helped at the booth and even sold a few games (mostly to my curious and supportive friends.)  All in all, it was a decent rookie attempt even with the various editing issues that ensued.  While writing this post, I found a link for it on the out of print game site, Noble Games.  It gave me a good chuckle.  I also found a post on rpg.net where someone placed it as their least favorite game.  This made me chuckle as well.  (I’m a big fan in being able to laugh at oneself.)

Since then I’ve thought about redoing the game, trying to kit bash something together that actually worked.  I was VERY close to doing this but was stumbling around the net looking at different options.

This is when I found Fu.

Fu stands for Freeform Universal and it’s a roleplaying game that, well, looks amazing and startling familiar.  I don’t know if the author ever saw Cinematrix or Matrix games but it’s like he crawled in my brain, found the idea, pulled out the chunky, clunky bits and then fixed it.  It’s brilliant and I love it.  The best part?  It’s FREE!  *cue awesome party music here*

The main idea of the game is that it’s all about description and collaboration.  Modifiers and math rarely come into the game.  I’m a HUGE fan of this as I feel numbers tug on the analytical side of your brain a little too much during what is supposed to be a creative endeavor.  For example, how often have you been in a really great, flowing scene and then it’s time to add up a bunch of modifiers to come up with a final score, roll the dice and do some math?  If it’s too much what does it do to the flow of your game?  I’ll get into my idea of whole brain gaming a bit later but for now just look over your past gaming episodes and think on that for me.

Back to Fu – Character creation is based on concept and descriptors.  Character attributes are not numbers but, instead, descriptors.   The rest?  To Thor with the rest!!!  The number of stats you have for a character is a small handful.  For instance, my dwarf might be Tough.  He might have the flaw of Stubborn and he might have the edge “Highly Perceptive.”  His equipment is listed simply as Ancestral Axe and Large Backpack.  Task and conflict resolution is a matter of quick math and then rolling.  The results of the roll either give you a Yes or a No.  More often they give you results like “Yes, and” or “No,but.”  The end result is a scalable game that gives you a flowing story.

Here’s the plan.  I want to get the kids together at least once every two weeks.  Though not your typical Dungeons and Dragons game, I think it will appeal to their creative way of thinking.  I’m currently considering taking them along a Pathfinder Adventure Path using FU.  This way the story is plotted out for me but the downside is I still have to take a considerable amount of time reading everything in advance.  Since time is one of the major limiting factors, I’m not sure if I’m going the Adventure Path route or taking the same time I would be reading in order to make up something new.

I really want to support family gaming so either way, I’ll be writing up some initial impressions and some session commentary.   If you’re into story games I suggest you go give FU a look.  Besides, it’s FREE!

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Posted on May 3, 2012, in Family, Gaming. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Meg Nickless

    That’s really interesting! My husband and I are playing a Pathfinder game right now with a group of friends and he’s really losing interest. I wonder if incorporating FU would make it more engaging for him. Thanks for the ideas!

    • Meg – Some of the ideas might help either speed it up or bring some creativity back into it. However, unless all the players are into it, it could be really frustrating to attempt to hack into an already running game. I also like something called Mythic GM-Emulator but, again, it would be difficult to graft into something already under way. Regardless, you’re welcome! FU is a ton of fun all by itself!

  2. I love to hear that you’re thinking about gaming with your family! I remember hearing how much you liked Matrix games way back when. So if this captures the spirit of what you liked then, I am ready to love it. From what I’ve seen in a first look-over I agree — FU looks like fun! I have an old, old campaign I’ve been thinking of dusting off to run through with the children, but I don’t have time or energy to do anything with deep rules. R has dipped her toes into D&D 3.5 and likes it, but there are so many rules 😦 But now I am thinking…maybe something like FU would work for the story parts of the campaign and we could just drop into a simplified D&D for the fights.

    • I’ve been in the same boat for years! FU may just be the fix. I hope to show just how easy this thing runs when you need a light and narrative style of play. Perfect for us parental types who don’t have the time or energy to learn or relearn a 400 page rulebook.

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